Hunter Pence spat at the first two live pitches he saw at the Giants’ summer camp Saturday. Then the ground spat at him.
A set of sprinklers between Pence and pitcher Logan Webb timed on. As a groundskeeper sprinted along the concourse on the third-base side down to the valves behind the visiting dugout at Oracle Park, Pence didn’t want to wait.
“Hunter wanted to keep going while they were on,” Webb said via text. “You could tell he was just so excited to be here. We all are. I didn’t get wet from it, fortunately. The sprinklers were perfect for just everything that’s happened this year.”
Webb was one of four Giants who threw full-speed batting practice on the main diamond in the second of three groups to work out. All three are doing the same drills, but sequentially, which makes the days long for manager Gabe Kapler and his coaches.
Hitters who stepped into the box against Webb, Kevin Gausman, Tyler Rogers and Sam Coonrod also had long days. There was little contact.
Pitchers routinely have the advantage over hitters in early spring training BPs, but hitters catch up over time as they regain their timing.
In a normal spring they get four to five weeks to catch up. This summer they get 19 days before the scheduled July 23 opener at Dodger Stadium.
“There’s no doubt there are going to be challenges,” said catcher Buster Posey, who caught Gausman and Webb and mostly tracked pitches when he stood in against Coonrod. “We’re just going to have to make the best of it that we can. I don’t know what else you can do about it.”
Posey was particularly impressed by Webb, the 23-year-old who debuted last season and was vying for the fifth spot in the rotation when the shutdown began.
Posey called Webb’s stuff Saturday “electric” and a “tick up” from Scottsdale.
Webb, 23, reworked his delivery over the winter and said he used the time off to develop further at a pair of private facilities, Results in Sacramento and Push Performance in Tempe, Ariz.
Kapler said Webb had the day’s best live BP and will be considered for a “bulk innings” role, which has come to mean a starter who follows an opener into a game and pitches for a while, but in this case could mean starting.
Saturday’s workout offered a glimpse into Kapler’s philosophy for the short scamp and how the Giants are using the entire field in unorthodox ways to cram as much work in as little time as possible.
Hitters on the main diamond batted without the cage because that was situated in the left-field corner, where a second live batting practice featured Drew Smyly, Trevor Gott and newcomers Tyler Anderson and Andrew Triggs.
Lest you think this was like Little League, where an outfielder could get smacked in the head by a line drive coming from another diamond, the hitters in left field practiced safety squeezes.
Two makeshift cages underneath the bleachers were used as well.
The staff wants players to think “game” from the get-go. Batters who got “hits” or “walked” ran the bases. When Brandon Belt lined a comebacker off Webb’s glove he momentarily forgot to run to first because hitters don’t usually do that in spring training.
The pitchers took the mound to their regular walk-on music, “Yellow Submarine” for Rogers as an example.
Rogers’ movement looked season-ready. He got Brandon Crawford to swing through a slow 9-to-3 curveball that no big-leaguer would want to see this early in camp.
Roster additions: The Giants added four players to their roster pool, including a top, young third-base prospect and a shortstop who cost them a pretty penny last year.
The four are catcher Chadwick Tromp, third baseman Luis Toribio, shortstop Will Wilson and right-hander Camilo Doval.
Toribio, 19, was one of the Giants’ big international signings in their highly regarded 2018 class. Baseball America rates him the club’s sixth-best prospect.
Wilson, 21, was the 15th overall pick by the Angels last year. The Giants coveted the North Carolina State infielder and dealt for him in December, agreeing to absorb all of the $12.6 million left on infielder Zack Cozart’s contract. The Giants quickly released Cozart.